25 Jul 2019
Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 10
The record breaking heatwave currently sweeping northern Europe brought work to a crawl this afternoon, on the tenth day of our summer dig on the site of Henry VIII's Elsyng palace, as temperatures in the afternoon crept into the high thirties.
Using improvised shade and staying as much as possibly beneath the canopy of the lime tree avenue, we were able to work in small stints with frequent drink breaks. Overall we weren't able to make much progress beyond topsoil removal in trench 3, which we opened yesterday speculatively looking for the continuation of the brick lined culvert which we found a small section of last year, and suspect may be heading towards the (currently undiscovered) location of the palace's inner gatehouse.
In trench two, we were able to do two small but interesting jobs, the first of which was examining one side of the vaulted drain which runs beneath the southern barn wall.
Excavating a small section next to the drain, we unexpectedly found a course of bricks running alongside it, which at first looked like the drain had a brick offset or a shoulder at the base of the arch.
Expecting to reveal the brick-built side of the drain, we dug down in front of the bricks only to find that they are only a single course set in a mortar bed.
We've nearly reached our allowed maximum depth at this point of the trench now, so unfortunately it looks as though we won't be able to get a good idea of how deep the side of the drain is.
Nearby, at the west end of the trench where we've been excavating an unusual feature including a conical fire pit, we were able to finish removing the rubble deposit next to the pit and the stub of partly demolished wall next to it, revealing a mostly intact brick floor.
The floor is quite limited in extent and occupies a narrow cut in front of the fire pit, the chronology and purpose of which are still far from clear,
Elsewhere on the site, we were able to get some key recording work finished meaning that tomorrow backfilling of trench 1 can begin and perhaps parts of the east end of trench 2.
Hopefully we'll be able to spread this out over a few days, although the forecast tomorrow and over the weekend looks considerably cooler.